So, 1992. Four LA police officers were on trial for what sure as hell looked to me like a wildly excessive and prolonged beating of unarmed Rodney King. In April of that year they were acquitted. For me it was a Holy shit, I didn’t see that coming moment. For African-Americans, it was a somewhat ruder surprise. Saying people were angry would be an understatement. The LAPD were completely unprepared for what happened next. Where did the forces of law and order set up there perimeter? Not here. Koreatown was left to its own devices. The official borders of 3rd Street on the north end, Olympic Boulevard to the south, Vermont Avenue in the east, and Western Avenue to the west; that’s three-square miles left pretty much to burn and fend for itself. [The Koreatown Plaza] rooftop quickly became the outpost for rapidly improvised Korean defense forces. They armed themselves. Set up crew with effective command, control, communication, and patrols. 58 people were killed. Only a quarter of Korean-owned businesses survived. Either destroyed outright during the riots or abandoned afterwards by owners who felt the entire underpinning with their contract with America had shifted. Yet today Koreatown is bigger, and better, and forever changed by what happened in 1992.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Episode 2: Los Angeles
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